Monday, January 26

Surprise! Kokinis hired to replace Savage

Earlier today the Cleveland Browns announced that owner Randy Lerner has selected Baltimore's director of pro personnel, George Kokinis, to replace Phil Savage as general manager. Kokinis has been the prohibitive favorite to succeed Savage for over two weeks, ever since it became clear that Lerner had zeroed in on Mangini as the team's new head coach. Thus, the move comes as little surprise to anyone, but the Browns were forced to delay Kokinis’ hiring until the Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs.

George Kokinis is a relative unknown compared to some of the high profile candidates that Lerner was considering, such as Scott Pioli and Rich McKay. Kokinis' profile can be found here. Kokinis started his NFL career as an intern in the Browns' operations department in the early '90s, and moved on to scouting. He stayed with the franchise after their exodus to Baltimore, where he worked his way up to director of pro personnel in 2003.

There have been concerns about the fact that Kokinis hasn't overseen an NFL draft and that he was hired after head coach Eric Mangini, creating a somewhat ambiguous chain of command. We can't squash any of these concerns at this point, and we'll just have to wait and see how Kokinis performs. Although Kokinis will have "full roster control" as part of his contract, it's more likely that Kokinis and Mangini will collaborate on most personnel decisions.

One thing is certain: Randy Lerner wanted to hire a team with a better working relationship than that of Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel. Savage and Crennel clearly were not on the same page this season, as Savage threw Crennel under the bus whenever it was convenient. Crennel, to his credit, took the high road. Regardless, the capacity for the coach and GM to work in concord seemed to be of the utmost importance to Lerner this time around.

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